Minuteman Marketing Solutions
Few industries have been disrupted as significantly as printing over the past thirty years. Printers have endured fundamental changes in technology, the rise of the internet, and fierce price competition from off-shore competitors. The industry has seen massive consolidation and was continuing a long, slow decline even before the pandemic hit. This article describes how Minuteman Marketing Solutions in Chantilly Virginia responded to the pandemic.
Print orders disappear
Jim Intihar is the owner of Minuteman Marketing Solutions, a Minuteman Press franchise in Chantilly Virginia, and a recipient of multiple Minuteman Press International President’s Million-Dollar Club awards for top performers. The business has grown steadily, and 2019 was their best year ever. 2020 was shaping up to be another record year when the pandemic hit.
By mid-March, several of Jim’s largest customers in the residential real estate, tradeshow and retail industries were at a standstill. Half of outstanding print orders were canceled in the span of a few days and it was clear that business would only get even worse.
Customers come first
Jim and his team reacted the way great businesses do; they didn’t focus on how to preserve their business - they focused on how to preserve their customers’ businesses. Their customers still needed to market their services without jeopardizing the health and safety of their staff and customers. And they looked to Minuteman Marketing Solutions for help.
Accelerating the transition to digital
Jim and his team re-evaluated their plans and came up with the mantra, “marketing at a distance”, to guide their thinking. Fortunately, Jim had been experimenting with digital brochure technology in recent years. It was only about 15% of his revenue pre-pandemic, but the foundation for a transition from print to multi-channel marketing was in place.
Jim met with all of his major customers and helped them develop more digitally focused “marketing at a distance” strategies for the pandemic business environment. Customer interest was high and one after another signed on for digital brochure services and a reimagined direct mail strategy tying digital marketing to direct mail.
The staff was experienced in pre-press, print and direct mail but not in digital design tools. Jim was committed to retaining and retraining his staff, and after several weeks of on-the-job training they were able to transition to a more digitally-focused environment.
Change can be good
By the fall of 2020, just 6 months after the business “hit a brick wall”, Jim’s Minuteman Press franchise was generating 70% of its revenue from digital marketing services and had become more profitable than ever, despite significant printing capacity sitting idle. When the pandemic passes and traditional printing demand returns, the company will be even stronger. “The addition of digital services has been huge. It saved our business,” says Jim.
Many books have been written about how difficult it is for successful businesses to implement a new technology that threatens to cannibalize an existing product or service. As a printer for more than 20 years, Jim’s transition to digital technology took foresight and courage.
Perhaps past success in adapting to a rapidly evolving industry prepared Jim for the changes that became necessary when the pandemic hit. “You can’t be afraid of making mistakes”, he says. “Especially in industries that are undergoing massive change, you have to be thinking about what you’ll be doing next year, or in 3 years or 5 years. You have to be prepared to reinvent your business.”
Looking on the bright side
The pandemic may ultimately claim hundreds of thousands of businesses, but it has also spurred innovation and long-term business improvement. Companies that adapt and survive, like Minuteman Marketing Solutions, will be well positioned for strong growth and profitability.
We’ll be sharing more stories of dramatic business transformations in the weeks ahead. If you or someone you know has a pandemic pivot story to tell, please contact us and tell us all about it.
About Venture 7 Advisors
Venture 7 Advisors was built from the ground up to help business owners grow and successfully exit their companies. We think like business owners because we are business owners. Venture 7 partners have owned and exited more than a dozen of our own companies. We offer practical business advice here on our website, through public speaking engagements and through professional publishers and development centers such as CFO.University. We encourage business owners to Contact us for a free brainstorming session. No sales pitch, just business ideas and support from seasoned owners like you.